Things to Consider When Interacting with People with Disabilities
Working with people with a disabilities, the AC Medtran staff observes that most families of the disabled find this journey both challenging and rewarding. On one hand, it takes some time to adjust to the situation, and on the other – you can actually feel and see yourself help another human being, help them lead a better, more quality life. It is unfortunate that, no matter how hard we try to understand and help, we’ll always have a difficulty understanding what it really feels like having a disability – whether an intellectual or a physical one. However, that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying: the more kind, compassionate and understand we are, the stronger bond we’ll be able to build with our beloved people, the more capable will we be to help them and become their strong emotional support.
Whether you do have a person with a disability that’s close to you or you don’t but you want to be educated on the matter, read through the following tips AC Medtran staff put together.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Putting yourself in the position of someone with a disability is probably the smartest thing you can do while you interact. Just imagine what YOU would feel like if you were in their shoes, think about the way you would want people to behave around you, talk to you, what type of difficulties you might be experiencing, etc. In at least trying to understand what they feel like, you’ll be able to understand their behavior, reactions, etc.
Don’t Focus on the Disability
People with a disability are very much aware of their situation and they don’t need anyone actively reminding them of it. Although asking about their situation is acceptable on your first encounter, don’t drag the conversation further in the relationship. The nature of someone’s disability or the disability itself shouldn’t be your primary focus; rather, focus on acting naturally around the disabled, treat them equally, just as you would anyone else. When you meet, i.e. start hanging out with a person with a disability, act as if just another new person entered into your life.
Recognize That Some Disabilities are Not Visible
The fact someone isn’t in a wheelchair or isn’t using medical transportation service or a wheelchair van transportation to get someplace, doesn’t mean they don’t have a disability. Some people suffer intellectual disabilities or other types of disabilities that aren’t immediately visible to the naked eye; they are often called “invisible disabilities”. For instance, if someone’s parked in a handicapped spot and they don’t appear to have a disability, don’t confront them. They probably have a good reason why they parked there. So, the best strategy is to act kindly and respectfully towards everyone and not jump to conclusions. Just looking at a person doesn’t actually help you figure out if they have a problem or not.
Understand the Bigger Picture
As AC Medtran staff explains that, what usually happens is that people get anxious or angry with people who, according to them, are “faking their disability” to get attention or else. This leads to frustration and hurt feelings on both ends which is never good, especially not for the person with a disability. Do understand that some disabilities vary from day to day: the fact a person needed a wheelchair yesterday doesn’t mean they’ll need it today… maybe they’ll just need a cane or a helping hand. This doesn’t mean they’re faking their disability – they just have good days and bad days.
Don’t Play with Service Dogs
Service dogs are well trained and cute, but they are not regular dogs you can cuddle with all day long. They are trained to help the person with the disability do their necessary performance tasks, and you disrupting the dog’s regular routine may distract the dog from helping their owner perform. Also, don’t give a service dog any treats or food without the owner’s permission.